MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and state Auditor J.B. McCuskey spent Thursday giving presentations to municipal leaders about coronavirus relief funding and the millions of dollars West Virginia cities and counties will receive.
Manchin and McCuskey held events in Wheeling, Parkersburg and Morgantown about the nearly $4 billion going to coronavirus-related efforts in West Virginia. President Joe Biden and federal lawmakers approved the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package last month, in which more than $1.2 billion is allocated to the state and $677 million to municipal governments. Governments will receive payments every year for four years.
Wheeling is expected to receive $29.5 million, Parkersburg will get $22.5 million, and Morgantown is slated to receive $10.7 million.
McCuskey has pushed local governments to use the West Virginia Checkbook program, which publicly tracks government spending. McCuskey told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM the program is catching national attention.
“We’ve had four or five states that have already reached to us to send our staff to them to train them on how to set this program up,” he said. “We’re actually leading the country in this effort right now.”
Funding can be used for infrastructure projects, such as broadband installation and improvements to water systems.
“You would think with all the wealth that came out of the southern coalfields that we would at least have clean drinking water and be able to flush a toilet and know it wouldn’t go in a creek,” Manchin said. “We’re making up for a lot of time that’s been lost.”
Manchin also noted the relief package covers a funding gap for volunteer fire departments as the pandemic halted traditional fundraising efforts.
“We couldn’t raise money because we didn’t have bingo, we didn’t have this, and we didn’t have that so we lost a lot of revenue,” he said. “That, to me, is a legitimate expense to help volunteer fire departments stay alive.”
Manchin was the only West Virginia congressional delegate who voted for the relief package.